The traditional wedding ceremony is
heavily loaded with gender-role stereotypes. Even
today, while society is becoming more and more
gender-neutral, gender and stereotype laden
ceremonies are the norm.
I used to find that couples, expecting a highly
gendered ceremony before Marriage Equality became
a reality in late 2017, were surprised to find
that they could choose to use the gender-neutral
Brides were not legally
required to be given away. Nor were they legally
required to be the passive recipient of The Kiss
with no say in the matter, the groom being given
permission to kiss
What did Marriage
The obvious change (yay) was that the couple
standing up in front of their guests, pledging
their lives to one another, do not have to be
one female bride and one male groom. You can be
who you are, the gender you are, regardless of
the gender of the person you want to spend the
rest of your life with. As a result, the
definition of marriage, required to be recited
by every civil celebrant before a couple makes
their vows, saw a man and a woman
changed to two people.
A second positive change was to the terminology
you can use when you make your vows.
The option of taking your best beloved as your
husband, or wife, remains. So you can marry as
husband and wife, husband and husband, or wife
and wife. The option of using the gender-neutral
word, spouse, also remains.
A new gender-neutral term was added. Couples can
now pledge their lives to one another as partner-in-marriage
Interestingly, while pre-Marriage Equality the
use of the word partner
permitted in a legal marriage ceremony, due to
the ambiguity of the term, it was the term of
choice for same sex couples having a non-legal
wedding (commitment ceremony). Post Marriage
Equality, same sex couples appear to
overwhelmingly favour the use of husband and
or wife and wife
wouldn't they, having fought so hard for it), a
significant proportion of the heterosexual
couples I marry are choosing to say partner-in-marriage.
It follows that you can, and should, feel
comfortable with using your pronouns, whatever
What about the
Prior to Marriage Equality you had no choice.
The relevant columns in the Notice of Intended
Marriage were headed Bridegroom
with those terms (and order) transferred to your
marriage certificates, both the official
certificate that proves your marriage has been
registered and the certificate you are presented
with on the day.
Marriage Equality changed the column headings
to Partner 1 and Partner 2 (allowing you to
decide who would be which) and removed those
terms from the Presentation Certificate.
Two sets of checkboxes were added to the Notice.
How you chose to describe yourselves (Groom,
Bride, or Partner) and your sex (Male, Female,
X). So there was still a whisper of the previous
hierarchy in the order ... but the good news is
that the term sex has been
discarded in favour ofgender
non- binary now replaces X
, so the
options will be male, female, non-binary.
Providing gender information is optional
and will not transferred onto your marriage
certificate. It is for statistical purposes
On your official marriage certificate the terms
you choose (Groom, Bride, and Partner), and only
those, will appear. Your gender is not
Making sure your
ceremony isn't traditionally gendered
The way it has always been done.
words that make the hair on the back of my neck
stand up. Tradition isn't law. In many ways,
wedding tradition is peer pressure from Queen
Victoria, long-dead aristocrats, and the white
Take that to heart.
- your wedding party doesn't have to be
divided along strictly gender lines
- there are many more ways of getting
yourselves up the front than one person
walking towards the other
- one of you does not have to be given away
to the other
- you can wear whatever you like without any
regard to heteronormative styling.
Regardless of how much pressure others may apply
to try to make you confirm to gender
stereotypes, you are legally entitled to ignore